Silicon Valley Classic return spotlights tennis stars

It’s a lingering question in women’s tennis, dating back to the 20th century and deeply relevant over the years: what’s going on with Serena Williams?

Perhaps that’s what best explains the allure of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, which opens on the San Jose State campus on Monday. Serena won’t be performing, and as amazing as it may seem to the casual fan, she won’t be missing.

Her reputation as an all-time great – perhaps the best already play — is forever sealed. But Williams spoke enthusiastically about surrendering to the youth, putting the spotlight back on the next generation, and that’s exactly the theme of this long-running Bay Area tournament.

Following a disappointing Wimbledon, in which she suffered a first-round loss to 115th-placed Harmony Tan, Williams has set her sights on the US Open, with a scheduled stop at the Western & Southern event near from Cincinnati, August 13. -21. She’s 40, she’s a mom, and she’s just done with the weekly touring routine.

So let’s welcome Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff to San Jose, not to mention the deepest field in this event since 1984, when it was known as the Virginia Slims of California, at Oakland Coliseum Arena, and the 54-game winning streak. consecutive Martina Navratilova was interrupted by Hana Mandlikova in the final.

Osaka has played sparingly this year, citing mental health issues and deciding to bypass Wimbledon, but she earned a wildcard berth in San Jose and is unforgettable at her best, notably in a convincing win over Serena at the US Open. 2018. final.

Gauff has been a talent that’s been on the rise since she first came to the world’s attention at 13 (she turned 18 in March), and she was a poised and entertaining presence at the French Open in this year, eventually falling to world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the championship game.

For most observers, these two players, in addition to 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, perennial contender Madison Keys and 22nd-ranked Amanda Anisimova – who knocked out Gauff in the third round of Wimbledon – in would make for a potentially compelling week of tennis. But the field is only growing with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and five players ranked in the world top 10: Maria Sakkari (3) from Greece, Paula Badosa (4) from Spain, Ons Jabeur (5) from Tunisia, Aryna Sabalenka (6) from Belarus and Garbiñe Muguruza (8) from Spain. Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach a major Wimbledon final, losing to Rybakina 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Just three years ago, people wondered if the tour could support an event in San Jose after it moved from Stanford’s Taube Tennis Center after the 2017 event. Attendance was sparse, there was a void in the he atmosphere and any sign of star power was gone over the weekend. To say the least, he made an emotional comeback.

Does the thrill

Among those who analyze baseball without looking beyond the numbers, there’s a theory that the “clutch” hit doesn’t exist, that players can’t be defined (or degraded) that way. Complete absurdity. The problem comes to mind with the Giants’ removal of Will Clark’s number because he was the essence of the clutch. “Believe it or not, there are a lot of guys who when the lights come on don’t want to have the bat in their hands or have the ball on the mound,” Clark told SFG Productions a few years ago. years. . “I was quite the opposite. If there was a situation in a game that was crucial and decisive, I wanted to have the bat. … It’s like any business: there are those who thrive in a moment crucial, and those who’d rather not be exposed to that kind of pressure. As Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow said, “Some guys are getting tight” in baseball. “They’re starting to think too much about what’s at stake. Will was still a guy you wanted up there, and man, he delivered.

The St. Louis Cardinals are the Giants’ business, thanks to wildcard racing, and a crisis loomed when unvaccinated Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado were barred from playing in the two-game league series. last week in Toronto. “I have to assume that at least some of the Cardinals had personal doubts about the vaccination, but went ahead out of respect for their teammates, for the general good of the team,” wrote longtime St. Louis columnist Bernie Miklasz. “It’s a bad look for two star leaders to break away from the group they are meant to lead.” The Cards were routed in Game 1 of the series on Tuesday night, but bounced back to win behind Albert Pujols’ three-point homer. The big man still has it, and it was No. 686 for his career. … The Yankees had reserves to trade for Andrew Benintendi of Kansas City after the unvaccinated outfielder had to miss a series in Toronto. Benintendi didn’t say much beyond, “I have an open mind,” but the Yankees went through with the deal, reportedly assured there would be no complications. It’s a significant addition, especially as Benintendi replaces batting machine Joey Gallo in the roster.

You’d think it couldn’t get much worse for the Angels than playing their usual lukewarm, scrappy style of baseball with superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on the stage. Now Trout is suffering from a serious back problem that he will have to watch out for for the rest of his career, which makes him very difficult to trade. And as desperation sets in, the angels are said to have heeded offers from Ohtani, who has been around long enough to realize he must escape the incompetent ownership of Arte Moreno and find a new setting. … Speaking of star power, Seattle rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez hopes to join Trout as the only players 21 or younger to record 30 homers and 40 interceptions in a season. For Giants fans wondering about Bobby Bonds, he had 32 homers and 45 interceptions in 1969, but he was 23 years old. … There is no comparison between Joey Bart and Buster Posey, on any level, but the young receiver at least has the potential to become a solid team leader. Big difference: Bart roams a clubhouse full of inexperienced, ordinary, or outdated players. When Posey broke through in 2010, along with fellow rookie Madison Bumgarner, he was surrounded by Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez, Juan Uribe, Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff (at his best), Aaron Rowand, Brian Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt. It was sink or swim with that crowd, and Posey swam the English Channel.

Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper came to despise the proliferation of positional players taking the mound in blowout games (more than 70 times in the big leagues this season), saying, “People are paying to go out and watch baseball. big league. It’s not that. How it can go wrong: Kansas City outfielder Michael A. Taylor pitched two innings against Cleveland on July 9, at one point throwing 94 mph. He complained of shoulder pain the next day and did not play on the pitch again until July 22. … To say the least, blowback is nothing new. The Washington Post researched a game in 1906 when three outfielders pitched for the Senators against the New York Highlanders, after which the Washington Evening Star called it “something worse than a bad joke.” Nothing short of criminal was the way these Highland boys beat three Capitol twirlers all over the suburbs.

Bruce Jenkins writes the 3-Dot Lounge for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: jenksurf@gmail.comTwitter: @Bruce_Jenkins1

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